Phorm, the ISP-level behavioral targeting company, has concluded trials of its technology with U.K. ISP British Telecom, and expects its service to be rolled out across BT’s network. The firm also plans to open a number of “exploratory offices,” and already has staff on the ground in South Korea.
An investor update released by Phorm this morning said BT’s trial had “achieved its primary objective of testing all the elements necessary for a larger deployment, including the serving of small volumes of targeted advertising,” and added that BT now “expects to move towards deployment” of the system.
A BT spokesperson confirmed that the trials had completed successfully, and that the ISP now “expects to move towards deployment” of Phorm’s technology.
In February, Phorm announced deals with three major U.K. ISPs, BT, Talk Talk and Virgin Media, but actual progress with the technology has been slow. BT’s trials were initially slated for April, but eventually began in late September. Additionally, Virgin Media has suggested it is unlikely to make use of the system any time soon, and Sky, Tiscali and Orange have all signaled they have no plans to implement it either. Talk Talk says it remains “committed” to using the technology, but does not know when this is likely to happen.
Adding to its current operations in New York, London and Moscow, a Phorm spokesperson also confirmed it now has a presence in South Korea, and is looking to open other “exploratory offices” to aid discussions with ISPs outside the U.S. and the U.K. Despite the difficulties encountered in the U.S. by behavioral targeting rival NebuAd, Phorm maintains the U.S. market is of great interest to it.
Earlier this month, Phorm replaced four board members and its COO after disagreements with CEO Kent Ertugrul over the direction of the business. Replacements included former Conservative Chancellor Norman Lamont and ex-Ofcom executive board member Kip Meek. The two will “build momentum in the rollout of [the company’s] strategy,” said Ertugrul in a statement made when the new board members were announced.
Many privacy advocates remain firmly opposed to Phorm’s practices, despite the fact that they’ve been given the green light by British authorities, ISP-level targeting has also been the subject of debate among ad industry execs and U.K. politicians recently.
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